It is, you know. (Someone put it there.) Curium, named for the great nuclear chemist Marie Curie, was discovered by Glenn Seaborg.
Tomorrow Darleane Hoffman, the great nuclear chemist - now in her 80's but still lecturing - will give the opening lecture at the ACS meeting in Philadelphia, in a symposium celebrating the 100th anniversary of Glenn Seaborg's birth.
I wrote about Dr. Hoffman in this space some time ago, when she lectured on the subject of Marie Curie: Women in Nuclear Science: Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Marie Curie's Nobel.
Here is the abstract of the talk that Dr. Hoffman will give about Dr. Seaborg, who she personally knew very well:
1 - Glenn T. Seaborg's global impact on science
Darleane C Hoffman, firstname.lastname@example.org, Nuclear Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720, United States
In celebration of the Centennial Year of Glenn T. Seaborg's birth on April 19, 1912, I will attempt to place some of his major accomplishments and interests in perspective from a more 'global' point of view. Although considering himself a 'nuclear chemist', his impact was felt throughout science, internationally and nationally. Over his long, productive life (1912-1999), Seaborg became well known to politicians, statesmen, students of all ages, environmentalists, and sports enthusiasts. He was a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 1951 and co-discoverer of ten transuranium elements, including plutonium (1941). Element 106 was named 'seaborgium' in his honor. He was Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley (1958-61), chaired the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission (1961-1971, returned to Berkeley (1971-99), supervising the Ph.D.s of 65 students! Seaborg served as advisor to 10 U. S. presidents, traveling world-wide as a proponent of nuclear power and the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.
I don't know what Democratic Party you belong to, but the one that I belong to is the one where a incredibly great scientist like Glenn Seaborg - who oversaw, as head of the AEC, the construction of more than 70 of the 100+ nuclear reactors that were built in the United States - could be comfortable.
The Mars Curiosity Mission, which may be the swan song of the vastly productive US space program, famously is powered by plutonium-238, which was, by the way, the exact isotope that Glenn Seaborg first made when he discovered plutonium in 1941.
The United States has launched 100 kg quantities of this isotope into space to power RTG, on the Apollo missions to the moon - one of these RTG's crashed into the planet on the failed Apollo 13 mission, wiping out life on earth (just kidding, life on earth ended after Three Mile Island, no wait, Chernobyl, no wait, Fukushima...) - the Pioneer Missions, the Voyager missions, the Galileo mission, the Cassini mission and several others...
The planet is fresh out of plutonium-238.
It is also running out of space in its favorite waste dump, the planetary atmosphere, to dump dangerous fossil fuel waste, in particular carbon dioxide, and probably, as a result, may run out of food (maybe within the coming decade) for a prominent dominant species on the planet, precisely the one that used to make plutonium-238 to view distant planets.
Food crops for the prominent dominant Earth bound species failed within the last decade, on every continent where food is grown, most recently in North America.
A coincidence I'm sure...maybe...
I hope that Apollo 13 plutonium doesn't kill everyone on earth.
Anyway, not feeling very comfortable about the role of scientists in the party of Glenn Seaborg or the other party, those nut guys, concerned (silly me) that the atmosphere may be collapsing in more dramatic ways than even I conceived, and also feeling bad about some personal issues, I decided to distract myself by checking out the instrument package on the Curiosity mission.
Here's the webpage for one of instruments in the instrument package on the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity: Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer
Here's what it says about the instrument:
The Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer will measure the abundance of chemical elements in rocks and soils. Funded by the Canadian Space Agency, the APXS will be placed in contact with rock and soil samples on Mars and will expose the material to alpha particles and X-rays emitted during the radioactive decay of the element curium. X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation, like light and microwaves.
Alpha particles are helium nuclei, consisting of 2 protons and 2 neutrons. When X-rays and alpha particles interact with atoms in the surface material, they knock electrons out of their orbits, producing an energy release by emitting X-rays that can be measured with detectors. The X-ray energies enable scientists to identify all important rock-forming elements, from sodium to heavier elements.
So two of Dr. Seaborg's ten new elements are now on Mars.
Interestingly, this spectrometer works by using Auger electrons, which were studied by another great woman nuclear chemist, Lise Meitner.
(I wrote about Dr. Meitner here: The Deformed Nucleus: Neptunium and the Rain)
Bittersweet, I guess.
Ignorance...never mind...it doesn't matter anyway.
Have a great weekend.